ATAR or apprenticeship? Ryu chose both!

A new initiative from the Educational Pathways Pilot Program has given a talented Year 12 student from Thomas Reddall High School in South-west Sydney an opportunity to combine his ATAR pathway with a school-based apprenticeship.

Image: Ryu on the job at MyCar Campbelltown

Ryu Monteverde has been tinkering with cars for almost as long as he can remember. Yet the keen amateur mechanic and proud owner of a Honda Integra never really considered pursuing it as a career until last year, when a timely conversation with a teacher served to change his mind.

“My Careers Adviser, Mr McLaren, came and talked to me about a school-based apprenticeship and asked if I would be interested,” says Ryu.

“I was always talking to him about cars, and how I work on them, so he knew I had an interest in the area.”

As an Educational Pathways Pilot Program (EPPP) school, Thomas Reddall High School had just been given the green light to promote a new initiative which allows students to commence a school-based apprenticeship in Year 12, rather than Year 11 which is the norm. It’s a great idea and perfect for students who decide that they’d like to get a head start on their post-school training without impacting their HSC.

Following that initial conversation, Ryu’s Head Teacher Secondary Studies, Michelle Collison, referred him to Fiona McKinnon, one of two SBAT Mentors for the South-west Sydney cluster of EPPP schools. It was then a case of determining Ryu’s suitability for the opportunity and brokering an agreement with an employer who would take him on.

“Ryu was one of about five of six boys who expressed an interest in doing a Year 12 School based Apprenticeship or Traineeship,” says Michelle.

“But Ryu was the only one who definitely knew that this is what he wanted to do, so it’s been quite easy to support him. He’s able to manage his time well too, so he’s been able to keep up with his study load at school, mainly because he does enjoy what he’s doing.”

In addition to doing his Cert III Automotive Light Vehicle, which is worth two units of HSC study, Ryu is doing a full ATAR course load, including Advanced Maths, Construction, PDHPE, Physics and Standard English. Normally, if a student commences a school-based apprenticeship in Year 12 they will drop some ATAR subjects. For some students, it would be a punishing workload, but Ryu doesn’t seem too phased about it.

“I’ve been going to the gym less since starting my apprenticeship,” says Ryu, laughing.

“But it’s become routine by now. I’m able to keep up with a few hours of study at home and get back on track with school.”

As for his apprenticeship which he commenced in Term 1, Ryu is thriving in the supportive environment at MyCar Campbelltown. According to Michelle Agius from MyCar, Ryu has taken to the tools like a duck to water.

“Ryu’s a great listener, he takes instruction well, but he’s also able to work autonomously, so he’s doing really well,” says Michelle.

“The team love him because he’s a good guy to have around and his manager has been very impressed with his performance so far.”

Image: Ryu with Michelle Collison, Head Teacher Secondary Studies

But Ryu isn’t the only one that’s benefiting from the EPPP’s involvement with Thomas Reddall. In the past, the school hasn’t had much success on the SBAT front, but thanks to the work of Fiona McKinnon and Michelle Collison, things are changing quickly.

“Today, we have two students in Year 11 engaged in similar jobs to Ryu,” says Michelle, a long-serving member of the school staff who’s been in the Head Teacher Secondary Studies role for just over a year.

“We’ve just signed up a girl in Year 11 who’s doing a school-based apprenticeship in Automotive Electrical Technology, and I have a young man who’s doing a school-based traineeship in Automotive Servicing Technology.”

More significantly, the school now has a list of about 20 Year 9 and 10 students who’ve expressed interest in a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship, (SBAT). That’s a huge jump from where the school was before the EPPP launched in early 2020. Even Ryu is noticing the uptick in interest.

“I don’t know anyone that’s doing a similar thing, but I’ve definitely had mates that got interested when I got involved, and now they’re keen,” says Ryu.

With a full ATAR course load and an apprenticeship to keep him busy, Ryu probably doesn’t have time to be fielding too many questions about SBATs, but we’re not going to pretend we’re not very excited about the way things are going at Thomas Reddall High School when it comes to Vocational Education and Training (VET).

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